Arc 1: Your Kingdom
Standing on top of a small hill was the Barthelemian royal palace, famous for being a gigantic military fortress. The palace was divided into several buildings, meaning that there were smaller independent dwellings on these vast grounds. The king’s residence was located in the middle and protected by precipitous cliffs at the back and strict guards at the front, unforgiving to all intruders. However, the boastful walls of this stronghold were surprisingly beautiful. The white as chalk royal palace, called “Heaven on Earth” by those in the castle town, reflected the light of the king’s majesty.
“As I have expected, drinking wine while gazing out this window is truly something.”
Overlooking the cliff from the window, Fernand gracefully swished the wine in his goblet.
“Fernand, do you know the reason why I called you here?”
Fernand turned his back on the window and shifted his gaze down to the red liquid in the goblet.
“Drinking delicious wine is the only good pleasure I derive from coming here.”
A young man, with features so common he could completely blend into the crowd, stood up, his irritation bared. There was nothing special about his short brown hair or brown eyes. If he wasn’t wearing those elaborate clothes that fit properly over his medium-sized body, no one would have ever thought that this man oversaw this great nation. Everyone had acknowledged the bland appearance of Randolph Elmer Barthelemy… However, the contents inside of this body were not even on that level.
“Do you intend to use this opportunity to retreat from the front stage? I salute the splendid work you have done as the highest-ranking general during the previous war. It was so magnificent that I’m troubled.”
Randolph sat down on the couch once again and emptied the contents of his goblet in one bitter take.
“To think that you would finish and return within half a year…I would’ve been fine if you didn’t return home for a whole year, though.”
“Could you fight such war for a year? Besides, I hate war. It tires me out in more ways than one.”
“Hum, I should have sent reinforcements sooner. If that happened, we could have appropriately divided the achievements, keeping you away from the inner palace. Now, the supporters of the second prince are noisy and unbearable. I mean, wouldn’t it be annoying to have another repeat of that fight two years ago for the right to succeed the throne?”
“That’s why I’m avoiding the inner palace.”
Fernand’s short comment caused Randolph, who was resting his chin on his hands, to face him.
“So, was the rumor true?”
For the first time in this meeting, Randolph concealed a nasty smile.
“The rumor that you’re keeping a girl in your palace.”
“Heh. Not that far off the mark.”
King Barthelemy knew of his younger brother’s disposition, raised an eyebrow, and pulled the bottle of alcohol closer. His brother had no hesitation publicly declaring he would not marry or have any children in order to avoid reviving the battle over the right to succeed the throne. As such, Randolph could easily imagine that this man would act whenever the stars aligned perfectly for him. It looked like he wanted to make a snide remark.
“An obedient little one who will follow anything you say?”
Randolph was taken aback for a moment at the faint sweetness in his tone.
“Who would have ever thought that today would be the day I hear such a word leave your lips.”
Randolph stifled his laugh, jesting in his thoughts, “Enjoy your honeymoon as much as you can now. I’ll be working to the bone afterward,” as he opened the second bottle of wine.
The day moved on and now it was time for afternoon tea.
In one of the corners of Fernand’s palace was the fallen country’s prince’s room, surrounded by an air of tension for some reason.
“I heard from Milly that you have barely consumed anything for both breakfast and lunch.”
“That’s because I don’t want to eat that much.”
The prince tried to put on a serious face demonstrating that he didn’t want to be pampered that much, but his face before looked like he was about to cry, weakening his determination. His black eyes were moist with tears. It looked like they would spill into the soup in front of him at any moment.
“Is that why you remain this thin?”
For the first time Fernand held up this body, and it felt as light as wings. He had intended to surprise the prince, but he ended up being the one surprised, his chest tightening.
—Why would this boy let it come to this level!
Fernand held the boy tightly yet delicately to his chest as if he would disappear like light snow.
“Please, I implore that you eat something…If there is anything you wish to eat, I’ll order it right away.”
Fernand gently returned the prince back to his seat the way one would handle a fragile object. He looked down on the head of black hair and let out a sigh.
It seemed that he will have to administer nutrients via infusion tonight as well. If he forced the prince to eat, surely he would come to hate food. The prince didn’t try to eat sweets. He wouldn’t put any fruits near his mouth. As expected, Fernand was at his wit’s end at the prince’s severely unbalanced diet.
“Umm…I, I want to eat sugar.”
Fernand doubted his ears for a second at these unexpected words. The small face made a complex expression and looked up at him.
“The square ones. The one you put in tea. Ichi gave them to me before.”
“Do you mean sugar cubes…?”
Fernand grew weak and could only let out a laugh. It wasn’t that this child disliked sweets; it was just that he had never eaten them before.
“Um, I can drink all my tea if you have that sugar.”
Moreover, this prince requested for sweet tea. The nearby sugar jar had granulated sugar, not the cubed ones the Prince knew.
—So that’s how it is.
The prince will not reach for things he didn’t know. Fernand realized that this must be the reason for the unbalanced eating habits.
—He must be wary about something. In that case…
Fernand reached for a nearby muffin and broke off a little piece. He put it in his own mouth, making sure that the prince saw.
“It’s sweet, soft, and very delicious.”
“Will you also partake?”
Fernand said, broke off another small piece of the muffin in his hand, and brought it to prince’s mouth this time. As the prince opened his mouth obediently, Fernand gently pressed with his fingertips the soft dessert on top of the prince’s tongue. As he withdrew his hand, he traced the small lips with the pad of his finger.
“Is it good?”
Seeing the prince bob his head up and down in agreement made Fernand’s chest flutter. It felt like he was keeping a small animal inside a cage…But that was not to say that it was by any means a bad feeling.
I actually had some difficulties when translating the 1st half of the chapter. I just hope that I hadn’t mistranslated anything which would lead to confusion later on…
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